Deep in the mossy forests of unincorporated Sonoma County, a quartz power-crystal in the shape of a dong began to quiver. Turning and turning in the widening gyre, a coven of temptresses who share a single eye among them began to cackle in unison. An evil doppelgänger in the Black Lodge parted some heavy red curtains and pounded a flagon of goat’s blood. Long-forgotten constellations named for Babylonian fertility goddesses came into darkly auspicious alignment with the undiscovered moons of Uranus.
Considering the loss of so many gay bars in the past few years, I’m operating on the assumption that at least one of these omens had to occur in order for one to open in downtown San Francisco in time for Pride.
Ginger’s Trois, which has been closed since 2008, is back, with the same pastel-colored, ceiling-mounted parasols it used to have. (They look like giant cocktail umbrellas.) Originally located around the block where Rickhouse is now, the space Ginger’s occupies has been part of the Future Bars group for some time, serving as a sort of commissary for Rickhouse, Pagan Idol, and the rest of the bunch. The name is a bit confusing, in that it’s the second bar to be called Ginger’s Trois, the original incarnation of which was the third in a group that was part of a wider network of homosexual taverns littered around the Financial District in the mid-to-late-20th-century.
What’s even better is that the price of a drink in this subterranean den of iniquity is also very 2008 — or maybe 2011 — with $9 drinks up and down the line. Endearingly, they’re named for other vanished gay spaces, like the Lexington Club (a Manhattan with Dubonnet) or the Deco Lounge (a Sidecar, something that wasn’t nearly as sickly-sweet as I remember).
It’s easy to get so hung up on the idea of Ginger’s that the reality of it passes unnoticed. The other day, before Pride weekend, it was moderately crowded, Gremlins was playing, and portraits of three women who could all have vied to be the model for Miss Scarlet in Clue adorned the walls. It’s big and windowless like pre-Compton’s Riot gay spaces, and you can imagine all manner of decadence transpiring in there once the smoothest talker on staff paid off the local sergeant on the beat.
It’s neat to consider how three Future Bars establishments — Pagan Idol, Rickhouse, and Ginger’s Trois — are all essentially connected. Then there are the long-lost tunnels beneath long-gone Market Street gay bars like The Silver Rail and The Old Crow, which were designed to shepherd patrons out during a raid (and only recently rediscovered). Secret tunnels are very on-brand for a speakeasy, but what else is under these streets? I’m telling you, those old-school gays had a portal to an anteroom in Hades where the parties didn’t quit.
Ginger’s Trois, 86 Hardie Place, gingers.bar